Monday, 22 February 2016

Monday Black Sea agri-business news

As the UK takes a step closer to leaving the EU with the Prime Minister announcing June 23 as the date for a referendum, Ukraine continues to move closer to integration exporting $4.2bn worth of produce to the EU in 2015 including $1.6bn of cereals and $625m of oilseeds.

UK farmers are in the dark when it comes to what a post EU situation might look like as the UK Ministry of Agriculture are so far refusing to lay out what their plans might be saying that they didn’t instigate the referendum therefore it’s not up to them to explain an exit strategy.

They are now unlikely to change that position given that Cameron has come out in favour of staying in but most UK farmers I have spoken to admit that if the UK exited the EU it’s unlikely they would receive the same level of financial support.

It’s going to be a long run up to the referendum.

SovEcon report that Russian grain exports are expected to remain high in March after record supplies in January and February primarily due to weakening of rouble making Russian wheat competitive.

Cargill announced they will stop selling crop inputs to farmers in the Black Sea region including Russia, Ukraine and Romania as they cut back operations citing to low commodity prices and an inability to realise many of the expected synergies between origination and crop inputs.

They go on to say they will completely exit the market by the end of May, I presume the gap will be picked up by other suppliers but worth keeping an eye on in case farmers find access to chems and fert restricted as a result.

Last week Ukraine’s Ministry of AG reported that 67% (4.2mha) of winter crop are in good condition with 33% (2.1mha) in poor condition.

I’m never entirely sure how they come up with these numbers considering that the satellite showed a third of the country still under snow last week but my feeling is they are probably indicative and that the crop is not looking too good this year.

We will kick off our own Crop Tour in March to check for ourselves.

This week’s Ukraine weather looks to be improving, warmer temperatures has melted ice with virtually no snow cover across the country.

Meanwhile cooler conditions across central Russia means much of the ice and snow is still present and there is still a risk of crop damage.  

Further south daytime temperatures are reaching mid-teens (Celsius) meaning dormancy will be broken and crops will be needing fertiliser fairly soon.